Visiting a classroom in the country of Namibia in Southern Africa was certainly an eye opening experience for us. We went in with an open mind and simply wanted to learn what the children are learning in Africa…
Of course, we learned quickly that it depends on where they are. The children we met were very bright and attentive, all able to communicate to us fully in English. The teacher runs all the classrooms in the school and is a strong woman. She happily showed us the class curriculums for various grades, had us sit in on a class and even let us read the text books.
A few things stayed with us from that visit:
1. These children have already surpassed the knowledge of their parents (whom we also met later on).
2. They are able to communicate in a language their parents do not know.
3. They are taught in a completely different way than we are in America (which is expected), but even the portrayal of information was foreign to us. We’d never heard some of the facts that were presented and a great percentage of their curriculum is based on the various settlers that came through the country, and in turn, slavery (more than a year).
4. There is no technology what so ever. We donated chalk and pencils to the school while we were there.
5. There is no access to the internet at all. Even in the big cities in Namibia (a country with only 2 million people that gained independence in the last 30 years) internet is hard to come by. This means research and external information is hard to access. They only learn what is in the books they are provided.
6. The books they have in the classroom are written and published by the Namibian government. This may be common practice all over the world, but it seemed interesting considering the content.
Now to you, this may all seem like no big deal. So what, African countries in rural areas are behind the times…well no, that’s not really the case at all. Namibia is a young country with a strong infrastructure and lots of money coming in by way of natural resources. There are a ton of settlers (mostly German) developing whole cities that look very westernized and are home to stores much like Wholefoods. The home values in and around Swakopmund (one well known city) exceed that of most American cities – and are comparable to prices found in suburbs of Boston and Chicago.
This next generation will define future developments and their education is imperative.
As we have already emerged into the era of technology and they are well on their way – I wonder when they will gain access to the tools that could really evolve the education system for their upcoming youth.